Science Says You're Probably Not ~Living In The Moment~ So Here's How To Be More Present

One of my absolute favorite moments from The Office (and there are several) is during the series finale, when the typically less-than-wise Andy Bernard wistfully says, "I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them." And wow, can I relate. If you're also terrified sometimes that your life is passing by without you actually living it, then you might wondering how you can be more present in your everyday life so those fears don't keep you up at night.

Now, for one thing, if you feel like you're not that present in your day-to-day life, it's not necessarily your fault. According to a new study, living in the digital age is making everyone more distracted than ever. ScienceDaily reports that in the first phase of this research, which was recently presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association, the study authors conducted a restaurant experiment in which they asked over 300 adults and university students in Vancouver, British Columbia to either leave their phones on the table with the notifications turned on during a meal, or to put their devices away with the notifications turned off.

As you might suspect, the participants whose phones were chiming or vibrating while they were eating were much more likely to use their phones during the meal. But what might be more surprising is that those who stayed connected to their devices during the meal later reported that they enjoyed the experience less than the people who had put their phones away. "We assumed that [these participants] would be more adept at multi-tasking between using their phones and interacting with others," Elizabeth Dunn, Ph.D., a co-author of the study from the University of British Columbia, said in a statement, "but we found out even moderate levels of phone use undermined the benefits of engaging with others."

So whether you realize it or not, your phone is probably keeping you from being present in your everyday life, at least to some extent. Here are a few easy ways to live in the moment more often, without having to completely sacrifice your beloved smartphone.

Prioritize What You're Passionate About

According to licensed marriage and family therapist Lisa Olivera, being more present in your life can sometimes be as simple as identifying the thing you're most passionate about, and running with it. "When you figure out what helps you lose track of time, seek to create more space for that thing," she tells Elite Daily over email. "Building our lives around what brings us joy and timelessness is so supportive in finding more presence."

So whether you're into coloring, dancing, or even scrapbooking, find that one thing in life (besides Instagram) that makes you forget to look at the clock, that makes you forget about the ~real world~ for a bit. It's important to have those little escapes for yourself, especially in the digital age.

Turn Your Notifications Off (Seriously, Though)

"I recommend removing alerts from your phone," licensed professional counselor Julie Williamson tells Elite Daily. "That way, if you're in the middle of something, you'll be less distracted by the alert and less tempted to pull away from whatever you're doing to check your accounts."

Yes, this change might make you feel super disconnected and strange at first, but chances are, you're probably not going to notice after a few minutes. If anything, you'll likely just be shocked by how much more productive and engaged you are in whatever it is you're doing, whether it's a hobby, a workout, or even a conversation with a friend.

Make It A Group Effort

According to business coach and yoga instructor Kelsey Eaton, a great way to motivate yourself to be more present is to enlist your friends in the effort, too. If you get your BFFs onboard with dedicating catch-up time as phone-free time, you're much more likely to succeed, because you're all going to hold each other accountable, says Eaton.

"I’ve even done challenges with my friends where, if we did self-care every day for a month, then we would all go on a weekend getaway to one of our favorite places," she tells Elite Daily over email. Now that is some serious incentive — why not try this out in your own friend group? Any excuse to take a vacation together, right?

Use Your Phone's Lock Screen To Help You Stay Motivated

While a photo of your favorite celebrity crush definitely makes for a cute phone background, Jessica LeMauk, founder of the blog The Naptime Boss, says it may be helpful to set your lock screen picture to something that reminds you of your priority to stay present. For example, LeMauk tells Elite Daily, perhaps a calming quote about mindfulness and presence would make for a good background. That way, each time you reach for your phone to mindlessly scroll through Instagram, you'll immediately be reminded of what's actually important to you.